AFP aerial assets: Flying coffins

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The helicopters and planes of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have been recently dubbed as “flying coffins.” This came after the crash of a C-130 Hercules transport plane of the AFP last July 4 in Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu, which recorded the highest number of casualties in the past three decades.

Latest reports confirmed that 52 have died, including 49 soldiers and three residents of Sitio Amman of the said barangay. At least 53 were wounded and currently being treated, including 49 soldiers and four civilians.

The secondhand plane was purchased by the regime just this January from the US. The war matériel of the AFP are mostly secondhand, including its warships and war planes which have been used since the World War 2 and the US war of aggression in Vietnam from the 1960s to 1970s.

The incident happened just a few days after Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana Lorenzana grounded the AFP’s fleet of Black Hawk helicopter on June 24, following a helicopter crash during a night proficiency training in Capas, Tarlac.

The combat utility helicopter crashed in the evening of June 23 after taking off from a former military base. The following day, search and rescue teams were able to locate the ravaged helicopter at Crow Valley in Tarlac. All of its six crew and passengers were killed.

The crashed helicopter was among the 16 S-70i Black Hawk helicopters purchased by the Philippines from Poland in 2019. Six of these, including that which crashed, arrived in the country in November 2020. Five more helicopters arrived this June and the last batch is expected to arrive by the end of the year.

The 16 helicopters are part of the $241-million contract (₱11.8 billion) between the Philippines and Poland in 2019. These were manufactured by PZL Mielec in Poland, a subsidiary of US company Lockheed Martin. (The Philippines was forced to buy from Poland after Canada refused to sell war matériel to the country because of the regime’s terrible human rights record.)

In all, 18 pilots and soldiers have been killed in successive helicopter crashes which took place since July 2020 until June 23 this year.

Last July 2020, four crew and soldiers were killed and another wounded when a Huey helicopter crashed while conducting night proficiency training in northern Luzon.

In January 2021, a UH-1H Huey helicopter of the 205th Tactical Helicopter Wing crashed in Bulonay, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon, killing seven crew and passengers. The helicopter was deployed to support the combat operations of the 8th IB against the New People’s Army.

Last April, a pilot of the Philippine Air Force died while three passengers were wounded when an MG520 helicopter gunship of the 15th Strike Wing crashed in Jetafe, Bohol.

AFP aerial assets: Flying coffins